In the early 1900’s, Arthur Andrews, a grain merchant from Minneapolis, bought forest land in northern Wisconsin for a family retreat. The retreat was named “Hunt Hill,” after his wife’s family name and the hill on which the cabin was located. As time went on, the farm just east of Hunt Hill came up for sale – Mr. Andrews bought it and asked the farmer and his family to stay on as the first caretakers of Hunt Hill.
Today the property includes nearly 600 acres, 7 miles of hiking trails, restored native prairie plants, two footbridges, a residential camp, and the two original Andrews family cabins.
The Andrews family members were strong supporters of the fledgling environmental movement, and daughter Frances developed a deep affection for wilderness, but especially for Hunt Hill. They worked with Aldo Leopold, Ernest Oberholtzer (“Father of the Boundary Waters”), Roger Tory Peterson, Owen Gromme, Ernie Swift, and many other conservationists. They helped establish the Wilderness Society.
In addition to Hunt Hill, the Andrews Family also owned land on Rainy Lake in the Boundary Waters and land that is now a part of Isle Royale National Park.
Frances became the sole heir to the Andrews estate and decided late in life to donate Hunt Hill to the National Audubon Society as a nature education center in northern Wisconsin. Her letter of intent can be read here. Frances lived to see her dream fulfilled, as the National Audubon Society successfully built and opened the “Audubon Camp of Wisconsin” in 1955. She died in 1961.
To read more about Frances, click here. Marjorie Savage and Mya Coursey present on the life of Frances in this video.
In 1986, after 31 inspirational years, the Audubon Camp was closed for financial reasons. Rumors of selling the camp to developers motivated a small group of Twin Cities and northern Wisconsin supporters to save the camp. In 1989, after incorporating as a non-profit corporation, the Friends of Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary (FOHHAS) secured a no-cost lease to reopen the camp under local direction. A broader environmental focus shifted to families, day camps for youth, and current environmental issues.
In January 2017, after 26 successful years of FOHHAS running the camp, National Audubon turned ownership of the property over to the FOHHAS group. FOHHAS is incredibly grateful to National Audubon for their donation. By owning the property, FOHHAS can focus on the future, while keeping Frances’ vision and dreams alive.
Million Dollar Match
“We are doing this to support efforts to protect natural Wisconsin habitats, offer nature programming to all ages and provide a sanctuary accessible to all. Hunt Hill is a gem in our community where everyone can go to find solitude in nature.”Dave and Carolyn Cleveland
The Clevelands are long-time members and volunteers at Hunt Hill. They moved to nearby Long Lake in 2002 and when they discovered Hunt Hill, grew an immediate appreciation for the presence of such an important natural gem in their new community. Carolyn quickly became involved in the organization and has served on the FOHHAS board as its president in the past and again in 2016-2017. They are, indeed, friends of Hunt Hill. As of June, 2019, Clevelands matched the entire $1 million raised to create a $2-million endowment for Hunt Hill. Now that it is invested, the $2 million will be protected as principal and the interest off the earnings can be used by Hunt Hill. These funds will help secure FOHHAS’s commitment to the community by allowing them to continue offering affordable programs, free hiking trails and look to expanding programming and updating facilities.
Richard Grand Recreation Hall
Since attending camp in 1982, Richard and Marcia Grand have been incredible supporters of the Friends of Hunt Hill. Marcia generously donated a total of $1.46 million in honor of Richard, to help Hunt Hill achieve a number of projects around camp. In 2018 and 2019, we were able to re-route the driveway around camp, build a maintenance shop, and improve the parking lots. Additionally, FOHHAS was able to remodel and add on to the old Program Garage, now named the Richard Grand Recreation Hall. This large project resulted in a beautiful, year-round facility, featuring a warming kitchen, lobby, storage areas, bathrooms, heating and cooling systems, a sound system, two patios, and more.
2017: National Audubon Society (NAS) turned over ownership of the Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary property to the Friends of Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary (FOHHAS). This transfer has been a long range goal of FOHHAS since their incorporation in 1990. The transfer frees FOHHAS from constraints and uncertainty of leasing a property, while allowing the organization to focus on their future and growth.
2015: FOHHAS, in partnership with NAS, closed on an additional 25 acres of land south of Hunt Hill Road.
2013: Thanks to support from donors, including the Grand Foundation, FOHHAS purchased 83 acres of land adjoining the original Audubon Sanctuary!
The purchase of the “Seever Property” was favorably negotiated with the son of Joyce Seever, a former member and good friend of Hunt Hill. She passed away at the end of 2012.
Since the purchase, the property has been cleaned up, the barn has been stabilized, trees were planted along Pepper Creek to restore a buffer zone, a trail system was added, and a steel roof was put on the garage.